The end is near! The church year, that is. Advent marks the beginning of the church year, and that is only two Sundays away. But this was also Malachi’s message. He called for God’s people to change their ways, because the day of the Lord was at hand. He spoke of the return of Elijah, to call God’s people to repentance. Christians would identify John the Baptist as the new Elijah. Let’s take a look at this very short passage.
- We are warned, through Malachi, that God is about to take action. This action is likened to a fire; a fire which burns all the evildoers. (v. 1)
- The good news is that those who revere God’s name will be spared. We should not fear this day—we will leap like caves from the stall. (v. 2a)
Just a few weeks ago, we learned that God loves the humble heart. What is the opposite of humility? One answer could be arrogance. In fact, Proverbs 16:5 states that “All those who are arrogant are an abomination to the Lord.” This passage from Malachi also tells us that if we love the Lord, we need not fear God’s actions in the final days. We can put our trust in Him, knowing that He will save us.
2 THESSALONIANS 3:6-13
Paul’s second letter to the church in Thessalonica is a sort of follow-up note to the first letter. It addresses one issue specifically. This church was especially keen on Jesus’ return. In fact, some were preaching that he had already returned! (See 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2.) It appears that some were so convinced of this that they quit their jobs, knowing that the end was near. This letter was written to urge them not to be deceived by false teachers, but to keep working, and be patient.
- This is the beginning of Paul’s advice to those who knew people who had quit working because the end was near. He says to keep away from them; isolate yourself from them, and keep working. (v. 6a)
- He then reminds them of the example they gave them, while they lived and preached among them. Even though Paul and his crew had the right to ask for pay without working, they chose to hold down jobs. This was to give them a good example of the Godly life. All those who are able to work, should work. (vv. 6b-11)
- So, while we wait for Jesus’ return, we should keep working, and not be weary in our waiting for his coming. (v. 12)
A long time ago, I would organize whitewater rafting trips for my friends. We would all go, and have a good time rafting and camping together. Oftentimes, they would invite their friends to tag along. One friend of a friend really wanted to go rafting with us, but declined. He said that he expected the end of the world to come before our camping weekend, so it was not worth making those plans. We all had a great time, except for him, since he stayed home waiting. That was 30 years ago.
Many modern day preachers owe their success to preaching an end times message that is connected to current events. Paul and Malachi tell us to keep our noses to the grindstone. They tell us to beware of teachers with sensational claims. Instead, we should keep the faith, and keep working. It will happen when it will happen. We can put our trust in Him, knowing that we are saved. This will happen whether Jesus comes here first or we go there first. Our job is to remain faithful, and keep working until that day comes.
In this part of Luke’s narrative, Jesus and his apostles have entered the holy city of Jerusalem. Here, they will celebrate the Passover meal, and Jesus will complete his earthly mission. Chapter 22 is the beginning of this part of the story we call the Passion Narrative. Jesus has some last words to say to his apostles.
- As this passage begins, they were in the temple that Herod had restored. It was a beautiful place with gold-plated doors, white marble, and beautiful tapestries from Persia. These country-bumpkin Galileans were appropriately in awe. (v. 5)
- Jesus tells them to take a good look because it won’t be long before it will all be destroyed. (It occurred about 35 years later!) (v. 6)
- They all respond with a typical question—WHEN??? (V. 7)
- Jesus doesn’t give them the date, but turns this question into a teaching moment instead. He tells them to beware of people who will say that the end is near, and that they claim to be the returned Jesus. Jesus says to ignore these people. (v. 8)
- Jesus then says that a lot of bad stuff is going to happen first. (vv. 9-11)
- Worse yet, “they will come and get all of you, and persecute you… because of my name.” (v. 12)
- He assures us that he [through the Holy Spirit] will give us the strength, the words, and the wisdom, when we have an opportunity to testify. (vv. 13-15)
- Worse yet, we might even be betrayed by friends and family for being followers of Jesus. (vv. 16-17)
- But Jesus assures us that if we have strength (endurance), we will be saved. (vv. 18-19)
It is appropriate for Jesus to talk like this at this point in his life journey. After all, he is about to be tried, tortured, and crucified for his obedience to the Father. Those who follow him will encounter resistance from their families and friends, as well as those in authority. We, too, can sometimes suffer for our faith in Jesus. We need to focus our energy on strengthening our faith, and let God work out His plan to his own timetable.